What impact will Lea Bridge development have on the marshes?

The planning application for 97 Lea Bridge Road has just been publicised by Waltham Forest. 300 homes are proposed for the site which is east of the new Lea Bridge station on Argall Way overlooking Leyton Marsh. Existing industrial/ commercial buildings are proposed to be demolished to make way for the scheme which incudes 3 x tower blocks of up to 18 storeys. The planning application is listed as No.153834 on WF Council website planning application pages. 

In light of this latest development news, local resident Claire Weiss reflects on what impact this proposed development. alongside that of a possible free school on the Thames Water site, the Mini Holland scheme and the construction of a new ice rink will have on the marshes…

In principle I support the building of more homes – primarily because more and more people need somewhere to live. The more drastic the housing shortage, the more will be the pressure for property and rent prices to rise. I am opposed to housing schemes that have low proportions of homes available at the ‘affordable’ level – I suggest the need in our area is for something like 80% to be in this social housing category. I am also opposed to housing schemes that are unsuitable from the environmental point of view. The three 18-storey tower blocks proposed will contravene much research on what kind of accommodation is suitable as homes for people especially families to live in: they will also change the nature of Leyton Marsh as an open space, since they will rise above a horizon level and create a landmark where one is not needed. We won’t stop the building of 300 homes, but we can influence their nature, relevance and appearance.

There are other dilemmas. In principle I support the Mini-Holland aims of improving the air quality by encouraging more people to cycle and walk and take fewer short journeys in cars. However the Mini-Holland infrastructure under construction next to Lea Bridge Road on the marshes is replacing grassland with horrifying amounts of tarmac, felling many trees in the process.

And lastly but not least, the ice rink proposals, whatever the LVRPA plumps for in the end – I am aware that this facility is valued by local young people, and it’s seen as a positive environment for children and people of all ages to enjoy being active informally.

Before long, I suspect that Lea Bridge Road will be an urban road, and the open land of the marshes will hardly be visible. The encroachment is difficult to stop. More people need homes; they need transport facilities; they need social facilities. The coming of the railway to Leyton in 2016 is having a similar effect to that of 1840 when it originally opened – it was the trigger for the development of housing, shops, schools etc. My view is that we have to strongly influence the nature and appearance of the proposed buildings, and we have to defend the existence of the remaining open land to remain as unspoilt as possible. At the same time I acknowledge that, paradoxically, residents new and old should go and enjoy the wilder marshes in greater numbers. This should not be the preserve of a few.

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The Edgelands of Development?

Members of SLM met with the Lee Valley Regional Park on Monday night to discuss the LVRPA’s plans for a new twin-pad ice rink. The LVRPA is currently evaluating four different sites against a set of criteria. These are:
* Eton Manor
* Pickett’s Lock
* The Waterworks
* The site of the current Lee Valley Ice Rink
 And, if none of these stack up or they cannot secure the funding necessary to build a new rink, they will re-furbish the current rink. Whilst it was heartening that the LVRPA are being more open about their decision-making process than they have been in the past and have committed to carrying out a full consultation with local people before making a decision, we are dismayed that all four sites are Metropolitan Open Land. Whichever way they jump, we will lose open green space. And the worry is that, eventually, they will want to develop all four sites. The LVRPA needs (or believes it needs) to generate an income and to do that it needs (or believes it needs) venues. Venues usually involve buildings or fencing, and that’s not good for those of us who like our leisure free and unstructured, and who believe that we need to preserve wild, green, open spaces at all costs.
We’re concerned that people will look at maps of the proposed development sites and think, ‘Oh, we’re only losing a little bit of land. What fun it’ll be to go ice skating or play five-a-side football on a floodlit astroturf pitch.’ And they are right, we will only lose an acre here and an acre there, but if those in power keep eating away at our green spaces (they are ours remember) then it isn’t hyperbolic to say that there will soon be nothing of them left. We have to draw a red line. We have to say no. No to development of any kind on Metropolitan Open Land. And that includes a new ice rink.
The LVRPA have shared their four site plans. They don’t show exactly where the ice rink would go at each site (it could be a different shape, for example), but they do show the rough locations and approximate footprint.
LVIC Context (BW) 110116-PTLVHTC Context (BW) 110116-PT
LVLC Context v2 (BW) 110116-PT
WWC Opt C (AB) 250116-PT
Posted in Lea Marshes, Leyton Marshes | 1 Comment

New Calendar Available Now!

SLM Calendar add 2016

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Public Inquiry Outcome

After June’s public inquiry, we were recently contacted by the Planning Inspector regarding the result. North Marsh pavilion and car park have been granted permission whilst East Marsh car park, retained without approval after the Olympics, has been refused permission, see here: COM 603 & COM 604 Hackney Marshes

We are happy that the correct decision has been reached regarding the unlawfully retained car park at East Marsh and therefore expect Hackney Council to remove it immediately. Although we are disappointed that the pavilion will now be built on what is presently green space, we understand that the inspector did take our views into account, acknowledging that the development would have a negative impact on informal users of the marshes. She was no doubt prompted in her decision by the urgency to provide suitable facilities for the sports clubs which had been left lacking by Hackney Council. This decision will result in another large car park on the marshes so we sincerely hope that this will be the last car park constructed on our common land.

Any future Council plans should involve everyone in a proper consultation to avoid unnecessary expense and community division between marsh users.a

Personal responses to decision

It’s been a few weeks since we received the Planning Inspector’s Decision about the North Marsh Pavilion and the East Marsh car park, and I am still thinking about it.
Like all of us who worked so hard to put together the case against the applications, I am very sad that one tree will definitely be felled on North Marsh, that other trees may die and that where now there is grass there may soon be an ugly building, and I’m pleased that the car park will be removed from East Marsh. Yet I don’t seem to be as disheartened by the decision as others, and I have been considering why. Perhaps it is because I am, mostly, a glass-half empty person and if you expect the worst then you are pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than you hoped for. Yet that isn’t the whole story.
As the inquiry due to a close my hunch was that we would win on East Marsh and lose on North Marsh, so the decision was pretty much what I was expecting. And we did win. Let’s not forget that. We didn’t win on all counts, but we did win. Hackney Council do need to remove the car park from East Marsh. Our hard work will help turn a little bit of concrete back into green space and, in my book, that’s worth celebrating. It isn’t a rip roaring 24-hour party kind of a celebration, but it’s a raised glass in acknowledgement of a hard-won achievement kind of a celebration. I was so proud to stand alongside everyone else who made the case against the application at the inquiry. We are all very different kinds of people, with different skills and different ways of going about things and – against all the odds – we managed to get organised, stay focused and work together to present a case that was complimented by the opposition and by the inspector herself contrary – I suspect – to expectations. That’s another reason I feel some kind of hope. We’ve done this once and we did ok. Next time we’ll be able to put our new-found expertise to work and our case will be even stronger. And if Hackney Council, Waltham Forest Council or the Lea Valley Regional Park want to see that as some kind of threat, then perhaps it may well be just that!
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Hackney Council Approve Their Own Plans

As expected, Hackney Council voted to approve their own application for two car parks and a pavilion building on Hackney Marshes at tonight’s planning committee meeting. Cllr McShane’s view that the ‘primary purpose’ of the marshes is for it to be utilised as a sporting ‘facility’ unfairly disadvantages local people enjoying the marshes freely for a range of pass times and its value for nature. No-one could reasonably dispute the need for improved sporting facilities, however with these plans the Council will unnecessarily destroy open green space. The Council’s agenda seems to be to commercialise our green spaces with large private facilities, including sprawling car parks (which will remain mostly unused), in the name of health and sport.

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Walthamstow Historical Society

Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign

Beating and Bicycling the Bounds
around the former Borough of Walthamstow

2.30pm on Saturday 6th June 2015

(approx distance:  Northern Route: 15.5km, 9½ miles;  Southern Route 9km, 5½ miles)

Gather from 2.00-2.15pm

by the Borough of Waltham Forest boundary sign
at Eagle Pond, Snaresbrook Road, E.11.

to Start the Beating the Bounds Community Procession

There will be a short ceremony at The Old Birch Well on Leyton Flats before walking or cycling
part or all of either the Northern or Southern Boundary of the former Borough of Walthamstow.

This is an event marking
100 years of the
Walthamstow Historical Society and
Half-Centenary of the Borough of Waltham Forest !
1. Cycle Ride around Northern Boundary via Gilbert’s Slade – led by Nic Fripp of WFCC

2.Walk along Northern Boundary to Woodford Green – led by John Churchill of CLOG

3. Cycle Ride around Southern Boundary – led by Katy Andrews of W’stow Hist. Society

4. Walk along Southern Boundary to the “Hare & Hounds” PH, Lea Bridge Road, E10
led by David Boote of the Leyton & Leytonstone Historical Society

Both halves of this ‘perambulation’ will conclude by meeting up at
the traditional end point of the ‘Ferry Boat Inn‘, Forest Road N17
(on the Walthamstow/Tottenham border), arriving late afternoon.

Walkers will be advised about public transport to reach the Inn (bus 230).

NOTE for the Northern route you will need to be fit and healthy (no heart/lung problems), and if cycling your bike must be suitable for difficult off-road terrainover-12s only, please!

Further Information:  email: katya@kay-oss.com;  tel/txt: 0790 415 9398

Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign: http://www.wfcycling.org.uk

Walthamstow Historical Society: http://www.walthamstowhistoricalsociety.org.uk

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Our Response to Mayor Jules Pipe re Petition

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

The footprint of the proposed pavilion measured out by SLM members

We are disappointed with Mayor Jules Pipe’s response to our petition. The reply does not address the key demand of the petition, that Hackney Council withdraw their own application for two car parks and a pavilion on presently green space.

We have made it clear that we are not disputing the benefit of suitably designed 21st century facilities for local sports groups. The petition in fact requested that the new pavilion be located on the footprint of the current facilities, rather than on presently green open space on the common land of Hackney Marshes.

The Council’s proposal involves inflicting unnecessary damage on the open landscape and needless loss of green space. There are no valid reasons that the pavilion cannot be located on the present site.

It is clear that no efforts were ever made to design a new facility that could fit within the current footprint. The starting point was an excessive amount of space dedicated to vehicles and a building designed such that it could not fit on the brownfield site on North Marsh.

Certain design features of the building that do not serve community sport, such as a large bar area, do not provide adequate justification for loss of common land.

The petition response refers to improving general public health. Encouraging people to drive to the marshes is incompatible with good public health. Hackney suffers from poor air quality and for this reason has been declared an ‘Air Quality Zone’, requiring Council action. Air pollution seriously affects people’s health and 9% of deaths in the capital are related to air pollution. 65% of the emissions that are responsible for poor air quality are due to transport.

As part of its own transport policy, the Council is meant to be discouraging car use; increasing walking and cycling; and supporting reduction of personal exposure to pollution from roads and cars. Hackney Council should therefore reduce its own impact on air quality, initiating car free developments, rather than employing public funds on vastly increasing car parking with this project.

As a borough with the highest level of bus usage in London, renowned for having the most cyclist-friendly routes and public realms, the Council is ideally placed to observe it own objectives rather than contravene its own transport policy with this proposal.

The issues are not complex. They are in fact very simple. The Council should reconsider its priorities and design the proposal to be compliant with its own policies and observant of the rights and protections afforded to Common Land. A redesign could easily include far less car parking; creating a better building that would meet the requirements of all users – accessible and safe for all the community and not located on green Metropolitan Open Land. This could have been done in the first place.

Such a proposal would be more likely to be passed by the Planning Inspectorate, could enjoy the support of all users of Hackney Marshes and lead to much needed facilities for the sports teams being provided without unnecessary delay.

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